The Center for Online and Distance Learning has been highly involved in developing policy for new online and distance program offerings and helping departments make those courses available. There is growing excitement for developing and offering these courses, but while developing, we need to consider many important things before UTC can offer its stamp of approval. One of the major considerations is student accountability when it comes to test taking.
A new product makes it possible to let a device and software serve as proctor for students and allows them to take those tests on their own time and from their home. This product is called Remote Proctor NOW (http://www.softwaresecure.com/solution/RemoteProctorNow.aspx?CSS&utm_source=EduBrief+%7C+March+26%2C+2013&utm_campaign=EduBrief+Newsletter+3.12.2013&utm_medium=email) and is developed by a company called Software Secure. This software and hardware package authenticates the test taker as the student by photo ID and by login credentials. Then, the student would take the exam through their LMS. During the exam, the webcam of the student’s computer is recorded with audio. The screen that the student is taking the test on is also recorded and linked with the audio. This way, any peaks in audio, such as someone coming into the room, a phone call, or a conversation, can be easily pinpointed so instructors and reviewers can go back to that moment and see what the student was doing at that time.
Finals are coming up and if you’re like me, you’re ready for it all to be over. However, it’s important to finish strong. This is why I feel it’s important to share with you some tips on how develop good study habits that was given to me by my mentor from undergraduate school.
Dr. Chris S. Dula, Associate Professor of Psychology at East Tennessee State University has given his talk on developing good study habits for undergraduate students for several years now. He finally decided to have one of his sessions recorded and created a PowerPoint from it.
Dr. Dula has always encouraged students to continue their education past the undergraduate level, and is the reason that I (and many others like me) have continued our education to the graduate level. I’d like to share with you his thoughts on how to succeed as a student.
The video is an hour long, but is well worth it. I have had the pleasure of viewing the presentation in person and again via YouTube. Even though I’m a graduate student, I still use all these techniques he described and his advice speaks volumes of how to become a successful student. If you take anything away from this blog entry, remember that time management is a critical part of being a student (particularly in a higher education environment). For any professors reading this, feel free to share any of the information provided in this blog.
While you head off for some fun in the sun this May the Center for Online and Distance Learning (CODL) will complete an update to the Blackboard system. From May 7-9, 2013 Blackboard will be unavailable to instructors and students, while the system is updated from Service Pack 6 to Service Pack 9.
Although this is a minor update (you probably won’t even notice a difference!) there are some new features that we are excited to share with you.
More efficient navigation from course to course: Jump from any location in one Blackboard course to the same location in another; great for grading multiple assignments across different courses.
Course templates based on teaching style: Create a course menu that suits your discussion focused teaching style with a click of a button. There are lots of styles to choose from and each can come with example course content to help guide course design. A word of caution about this tool, once selected, course styles cannot be easily removed or changed.
A new menu and access to more tools from any course content area: The “Add Interactive Tool” content area drop down menu is now simply called “Tools”. Additionally, a new menu called “Publisher Content” provides easy access to Blackboard supported publisher content, such as McGraw Hill and Wiley Plus.
Automatic re-grade: Update a test before, during, or after a test is deployed to students. Blackboard will automatically update all student submissions to reflect any changes. Yay!
Better tracking with new course reports: Two new instructor course reports have been added to Blackboard – Course Activity Overview and Student Overview for a Single Course.
A few more small changes which will hopefully improve your experience:
Negative point values for test questions
View Grade Center History by grading column
Percent ranges on rubrics
Select all option for course export, import, and copy – Yay! Fewer clicks!
Spring has sprung around the UTC campus and here in the Center for Online and Distance Learning (CODL or cod-le) we’re ready to get out and about around campus after our very busy hibernation.
First up on our spring agenda is UTC’s Research Day. Look for our fearless leader and director of CODL, Kim McCroskey, with the poster presentations. Kim and Dr. Karen Adsit have put together an informative poster presentation on Evidence-Based Best Practices for Online Learning.
The CODL poster presentation topics include:
Value in asynchronous collaboration
Excellence in facilitation
Creating useful spaces
Information presented during this session is useful to all instructors, whether you’re teaching online or not. Research shows that good practices in the virtual classroom improve traditional classroom teaching as well. So, stop by, say hello, and pick up some great tips on teaching in both the virtual and physical classroom.
In our world of changing and emerging technology, video has become an increasingly important part of learning. It is also becoming much easier to use video to teach because students have greater access to high speed internet. According to a study conducted by the Copyright Clearance Center in 2009 , partnering with New York University, 43% of faculty indicated that they would be using more video in their upcoming courses. Of that video content, 83% said it would be documentary type videos and 30% said they would be utilizing internet links for their students to view video. That’s just the start. More and more schools are building YouTube pages and the term MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) has become the topic of the day. Video will be and is changing the face of education most notably, according to faculty and instructional technology professionals, in two ways.
Mobile video is the way that most students will access video in the upcoming years. Not just by laptops, but smartphones, tablets and any other device that may be introduced in the near future. This ever increasing demand also is bringing rise to the BYOD or “bring your own device” movement where video and content is expected to work across multiple platforms. This is a huge challenge for system administrators, but it must be achieved.
Another way video is affecting the classroom is by flipping it on its end. The “flipped classroom” is a method where students view video and are introduced to new material prior to discussing it in class. In this model, the video presents concepts the day before class and class time is used for practice and application. This technique optimizes precious class time so students can benefit from more hands-on learning and student interaction.
Do you use video in your online or face-to-face classes? Do you plan on using it in the future?
Are you trying to make a customized banner for your course but having some trouble? Pixlr.com is a simple, free, Internet tool that allows you to customize images with text and other effects to make a fitting course banner.
To start, identify an image that you would like to use as your course banner. You can use an image from the web (keeping in mind copyright) by saving it to your computer (right click on the image > Save Image As) or choose a personal photo or image from your saved image files. Navigate to Pixlr.com choose Open Pixlr Editor. Once the Editor has loaded, select Open Image from Computer and choose an image saved to your computer.
The suggested size for a banner image is anywhere between 600-800 pixels wide and about 150 pixels tall. You can specify these dimensions by clicking image (at the top) > image size.
Pixlr creates layers so you can edit the background separately from the text. The Layers menu is located on the right-hand side of the Pixlr canvas. The banner image included above has two layers – one for the background image and one for the text. The layer you are editing is highlighted in blue. To edit another layer simply click on the layer from within the Layers list.
The icon circled in red is what brings up the editing options shown below the highlighted bar. Opacity will allow you to make the background more or less transparent. This may be a helpful tool if you want your text to POP.
The image to the left is a portion of the tools bar located on the left-hand side of the screen. The A icon is the text tool that will allow you to add text on top of your picture. Once you are done, click File > Save and save your picture as a JPEG. You can refer to the blog “Welcome Back and Looking Forward: Customizing the Look of Your Course Part II” to see how to upload your new banner into your course.
Whitney Huskey Graduate Assistant Walker Teacher Resource Center 423.425.4188
The Blackboard Mobile Learn app is now available on most mobile device (iOS, Android, Palm, and BlackBerry) and all network providers. Mobile Learn is available to all UTC students, faculty, and staff at no cost.
Blackboard’s mobile app allows for easy access to course announcements, content, and grades on the go! Stay connected with students and explore new opportunities for learning and connecting outside the classroom.
While Blackboard Mobile Learn is an excellent tool for staying connected with students and faculty, it is not recommended (or possible, in some cases) that instructors use Blackboard Mobile for course management functions (creating or grading assignments, adding content, working in the Grade Center).
Additionally, students should not rely solely on Blackboard Mobile to participant in online class activities and should avoid using the mobile app to complete any assignments or assessments.
Accessing Blackboard via a full computer browser is still necessary for both faculty and students in order to complete many online course activities.
Exciting improvements and enhancements are coming to UTC Online during 2013! From free apps to new Banner processes, the Center for Online and Distance Learning continues to work to improve online and distance learning at UTC.
Did you know that you can access your UTC courses in Blackboard using your smartphone or tablet by downloading the free Blackboard Learn Mobile application? After you download the app, you will be prompted to log in with your UTC ID and password. Once logged-in you will see a listing of all of your available courses. We recommend avoiding processes such as taking quizzes or working in the grade book while on your mobile device, but it’s a great way to stay connected to discussions and content while on the go.
Beginning Fall 2013, you will be able to search and register for online and distance courses with greater ease with more detailed search options. Additionally, students will also be able to select online programs as majors during the application process. With these changes, we hope to build a foundation for UTC’s virtual campus and eventually increase online and hybrid courses and programs offered at UTC.
Stay tuned to our tweets and blogs throughout the spring semester for tips and tricks to help you with your courses.
Happy holidays from the Center for Online and Distance Learning!
Kim McCroskey Director Center for Online/Distance Learning
Finals week is here and you may be wondering what your grade is in a particular course or how well to do on your final to pull of an A. A great way to get started is to view your Grades and Feedback within UTC Online.
There are two possible ways to check your grades. If your grades are in neither of the following locations, you should contact your instructor to find out whether they are posting grades and making them available within UTC Online.
1.) From within a course, click on the My Grades button in the Control Panel. This will give you your grades for this course only.
2.) To check your grades for all courses, click on My Grades located in the Tools module on the Main Page. Then select a course from the My Courses/Organizations list.
Now that you know how to get to My Grades, you can also see if your instructor has left you any feedback. If your instructor has enabled this feature you will be able to receive detailed information about how you performed on you test, quiz, or submitted assignments. Detailed feedback can be found by clicking on your grade or reviewing the Comments column.
Check out this informative video to explore My Grades and its features.
Finals are approaching quickly! Here are a few tips to make the week a little less stressful.
Get an early start
Don’t wait until the day before to begin studying. Start preparing for your exams at least a week before.
Check UTC Online
Check your courses on blackboard for study guides or tips from your professors on preparing for the exam.
Utilize your planner. Mark down each of your finals and their start times. It is also helpful to mark in your planner a study schedule (i.e. what you need to study for each day and how much time you should devote to each subject)
Making an outline will give you a great starting place. For each subject make an outline of the key points to study. Go back and fill in the specific details.
Make flash cards
After you have made your outline, make flash cards with the key points on one side and the specific details for that point on the other. Keep the flashcards with you in case you have spare time to look over them.
Don’t be afraid to go to your professor for help. If you do not understand a topic, they are more than willing to help. Tutors are also available for assistance, as well as peers who are in your class.
Your brain needs rest to help you pass those tests! Get at least 7 hours of sleep the night before your big test.
Take your time during your test. Read every question carefully so you can give the best answer.